What Does Jesus Want Me to Do in My Marriage?

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Marriage is HARD.

Really – I would even say it is impossible – in human strength and effort alone.

Men and women are SO different.  We think and feel entirely differently.  We have different priorities and needs many times.  We approach things from completely opposite perspectives.  We have very different strengths and weaknesses.  Marriage is practically a recipe for torture – apart from Christ.

That is the key.  If we look to our husbands or to ourselves – we will destroy our marriage.  I must keep my eyes on Christ!  He is the only source of power that will enable our marriage to be what He designed it to be.  I must daily live for Him and abide in Him!

THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE

God designed people.  And God designed marriage.  He designed marriage for several purposes:

  • to be a living parable of the intimate spiritual relationship and the oneness of Christ and His church
  • to provide a stable, loving, nurturing, secure, safe, healthy place for children to be born and raised to know God and love Him and to learn how to love others and be prepared to be responsible, faithful, fruitful servants of Christ.
  • to form us more and more into the image of Christ – to make us holy (NOT primarily to make us happy!)
  • to teach children how to have a healthy, vibrant and flourishing marriage and how to be godly parents themselves
  • to provide a solid foundation and building block for healthy, secure, productive and godly societies.
  • to provide companionship and unity in the most intimate human relationship.
  • to provide a safe, loving, perfect place for sex and procreation
  • as a classroom to learn to love and forgive
  • because it is not good for man to  be alone – God designed a helpmeet suitable for him

This list is not exhaustive – but it provides a good glimpse into some of the biggest reasons why God chose to design and institute marriage.

WHEN MY HUSBAND SINS AGAINST ME

The problem with two sinners being married is – they WILL sin against each other and they WILL hurt each other.  There is no perfect marriage partner (except Jesus).  So it is our job to learn to be great forgivers and to tap into God’s power to be able to do this.  When I am putting Christ first and setting my heart on Him, His will, His Word and His glory, He will empower me to deal with anything my husband might do – and I can trust that He will use even my husband’s sin and mistakes ultimately for my good and His glory.

What would Jesus tell me to do when my husband is unkind, verbally abusive, arrogant, demeaning, mean, belittling, disrespectful, unloving, selfish, hateful, prideful, refusing to be intimate with me, trying to force me to be intimate with him, flirting with other women, lying, being irresponsible with money, not taking the best care of our children (in my view), not praying with me, not abiding in Christ, not reading his Bible, being materialistic, putting other things ahead of Christ or ahead of our marriage that are inappropriate…?

LET’S APPLY LUKE 6:20-49 TO OUR MARRIAGES

(I am going to alter the words a bit to fit to our marriages)

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when your husband/extended family members/coworkers/neighbors/others hate you, when they exclude you and insult  you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.  For that is how (people) treated the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

Woe to you when (everyone in your life) speaks well of you, for that is how (people) treated the false prophets.  (People pleasing does not please God!)

But I tell you who hear Me:

  • Love your husband when he acts like he is your enemy
  • do good to him if he hates you
  • bless him if he curses you
  • pray for him when he mistreats you.  
  • If your husband strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.  (I would add, get some godly, wise, experienced help ASAP!)
  • If he takes your (coat), do not stop him from taking your (shirt/dress).  
  • Give to him when he asks you
  • if your husband takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
  • Do to your husband as you would have him do to you (meet his needs and be a godly wife, just like you want him to meet your needs and be a godly husband)
  • if you love him only when he loves you, what credit is that to you? Even (unbelievers) love those who love them. 
  • If you do good to him only when he is good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even (unbelievers) do that.
  • If you lend to him (give something to him or do something for him) and expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even (unbelievers) lend to (unbelievers), expecting to be repaid in full.
  • love your husband when it feels like he is your enemy, do good to him, and lend to him (do kind, respectful things for him) without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be (daughters) of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 
  • Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
  • Do not judge your husband, and you will not be judged.  
  • Do not condemn your husband, and you will not be condemned.
  • Forgive your husband, and you will be forgiven.
  • Give to your husband, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Can a blind wife lead a blind husband?  Will they not both fall into a pit?  A student is not above his Teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his Teacher.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your husband’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you tell your husband, “Husband, let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your husband’s eye.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit… The good wife brings good things out of the good stored up in her heart (her husband doesn’t MAKE her act good, the Spirit of God inside of her causes her to act good!), and the evil wife brings evil things out of the evil stored up in her heart (her husband doesn’t MAKE her act bad, her own sin and fleshly nature cause her to react in sin).  For out of the overflow of her heart, her mouth speaks.

Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say to do for your husband?

I will show you what she is like who who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice.  She is like a man building a house (a life, a marriage, a family), who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock  When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, for it was well  built.

But the wife who hears My words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house (a life, a marriage, a family) on the ground without a foundation.  The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete

Lord,

Give us ears to hear and hearts that are willing to obey.  Tear down any strongholds of the enemy in our souls.  Give us Your power to humble ourselves and submit to You and honor You in our marriages!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

OTHER SCRIPTURES

Ephesians 5 – God’s design for marriage

I Corinthians 11:2-13  –  God’s authority structure for marriage

I Corinthians 13:4-7  – God’s definition of love in marriage

Galatians 5:19-22 – a comparison of a life powered by self vs. a life powered by God’s Spirit

I John

Who Is Really Being Affected?

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WOW!  God is working so much in Kayla’s life this week!  I LOVE IT!  Thanks, Kayla, for sharing this.  I think that MANY, MANY women will benefit from this post.  I can’t wait to see what God plans to do!  (You can find Kayla’s blog at www.lessonsofmercy.wordpress.com)

We all know that men are visual.  While that is often expressed among Christians as being a “problem” or “evil temptation”, I actually think it’s a pretty awesome blessing.

We really must admit women, that we feel wonderful that our men are attracted to our beauty, and feel incredible fulfillment when they comment on that attraction.  Few words feel as wonderful as hearing “You’re so beautiful.”

I’m not dismissing the obvious battle.  It is hard for a man to keep himself pure, especially with so much visual temptation flaunting itself around.  Every where you look AND click, visual images are getting racier and down right embarrassing. Men have to address and deal with this issue – but believe it or not, it might actually be an even BIGGER issue for most women.

When something is on TV that shouldn’t be, on a magazine cover in the check-out line, walks herself into a room, *I* notice BEFORE my husband even has the chance to.  My eyes are like radars.  And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

I’ve always known that visual images affect women.  I mean, there is a race for beauty and it isn’t coming from some imaginary image that magically appeared in the mind of every woman to walk this earth.

However, the dirtier the images get…. the MORE I believe women are actually affected in greater ways than men.  This battle for men has always been the same battle.  Yes – it is getting harder to keep from looking and to take your thoughts captive the more “naked” is acceptable in public;  But what about what is happening to women?

We face depression. We feel deflated that we will never look like that. In all our best efforts, we will never be able to follow some silly exercise routine and come out looking like the girl in the picture…or more popular “pin” on pinterest.  Because let’s face it, if we could get her abs, we’ll never get her acne free skin, white teeth, perfectly proportioned nose, gorgeous long hair and so on.

We live in fear.  We’re constantly pelted with the reality that men are visual, and with so much temptation out there….we’re positive our husband can’t be faithful.  We doubt. We question.  We assume.  We don’t believe.  We sabotage our marriage and steal from it trust and confidence.

We feel insecure.  If the click of a mouse can bring up some wonderful image, how could what I have to offer really even turn my husband on?  Why would I take off my clothes, let the lights be on, take a risk when 15 minutes earlier we were watching the television and viewed this other girl do these previously mentioned things, who is so beautiful it even made me blush!

We resent.  We start to hate pretty girls.  We find reasons to tear them down or point out all their flaws.

We get INCREDIBLY jealous.  We can’t handle the thought of our husband even working at a place where women are present.  We get grumpy when they share stories with women in them. And sometimes we even get mad that our husband is a gentleman and holds open doors like he should for another woman.

We compare ourselves. Somehow we start to believe that our worth is comparable to the number on the scale, the size of clothes we wear, the color of our hair, the length/style of our hair, and on and on and on. (Women have been known to compare elbows for crying out loud!)

Do you know what I think?  I think these images and racy clothes are not hurting men as badly as they are hurting women.  And the more the women hurt, the harder the man’s battle to stay pure, and the more challenges the marriage faces to stay faithful and joyful.

Men know about their issue.  And many of them put boundaries in place to protect themselves.  Women however don’t even realize how these images and dress are affecting them, and so they crash and fall. Miserably.

The more miserable they are, the less they trust their spouse, accept his compliments, believe his statements, and the more they doubt, resent, accuse and wreck the unity that honestly might have existed otherwise.

Practical Application:

Women – are the images everywhere affecting you?  May you have accused your husband wrongfully because of the effects on your own life? Might you be trapped in some of these above situations and sins as a result of what you’re letting your eyes notice?

Name it. Own it. Confess it. Repent of it!

Men- this is really big…. so hear me on this. As weird as this might sound to you… it is YOUR responsibility to protect your wife from these images, just as much as she  needs to help protect you.  It’s team work to keep the level of purity at the standard God calls us to keep it, so we can remain healthy, happy, faithful, and loving in our marriages.

Both men and women need to guard their hearts.

Bitterness is Contagious and Toxic!

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Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.   Hebrews 12:14-15

WHAT IS IT ABOUT ONE PERSON’S BITTERNESS THAT DEFILES MANY?

In this passage – there is a TON of spiritual meat!

  • it is impossible to live in peace with others and be bitter
  • it is impossible to be holy and be bitter
  • it is impossible to see God without holiness
  • it is impossible to grasp the grace of God and be bitter
  • bitterness grows to cause trouble (in the church, in families, in businesses, in neighborhoods, ANYWHERE)
  • bitterness yields a toxic harvest that contaminates many people

1. My bitterness may lead others to become bitter towards the same person/thing I am bitter about

When I am bitter – I am seething with unforgiveness and a sense of justifiable anger.  I am fueled primarily by PRIDE – pride that I don’t deserve this treatment and that I am better than the person with whom I am bitter, that I ought to be sovereign instead of God, that I know best for myself and for others, that I should decide and dole out what the punishment for sin against me should be… LOTS OF PRIDE.

I cherish my grudge more than my relationship with God.  My bitterness leads me to more sin.  As the bitterness tree grows – it takes over my heart, my life, my thoughts, my words and my actions.  The tree begins to develop fruit.  Fruit like – hatred, avoidance, lack of love, lack of faith in God, deceit, lying, being divisive, gossip, possibly even violence or adultery – depending on my situation.  And the fruit drops into my life and the lives of those around me, rotting and allowing the small seeds of bitterness to spread and germinate in other places.

When I am bitter, I WANT to gossip about the person with whom I am bitter.  I WANT to run them down.  I WANT to hurt their reputation and try to build myself up by stomping them into the ground.  Gossip defiles my listeners.  And the people listening to me may become convinced to become angry, unforgiving or bitter towards the target of my bitterness, too.  Or, at the very least, they will lose respect and regard for the target of my bitterness or for me!  This happens at work, in extended families, in the church and especially in the home.

Children who have a parent who sets out to turn them against the other parent often develop great bitterness and unforgiveness themselves towards that other parent – not realizing until they are adults how much they have been defrauded by the bitter parent.  They can literally be robbed of the love of one parent and a relationship with that parent by having a bitter parent try to turn them against the other parent.

2. Others may become bitter towards me because it is HARD to love a bitter person.  My bitterness is so obnoxious, foul and toxic.

When I am bitter, I become more and more consumed with my anger, my justification of my own sin, my pride, my rights, my desire for revenge, my needs, my purposes, my will, MYSELF – that I can hardly see anything or anyone else around me eventually.

There is certainly no room for Christ to co-exist in my heart with a tree of bitterness.  Even a tiny seed or root of it offends His holiness.  I have to choose – Christ or bitterness.

It is HARD to love someone engulfed in bitterness.  They are sharp and prickly.  They practically develop a force field around them that love bounces off of.  It is exhausting to be around them.  They are depressing and draining.  They are an endless pit of need and negativity.  It is EASY to begin to develop bitterness towards a bitter person.  Of course, Jesus can give us to power to continue to love them  – but if we start reacting in our own flesh, we can be very tempted to be bitter with one who is bitter.

3. Bitterness can become my idol.

I can become completely entangled if bitterness continues to grow unchecked.  My very identity becomes BITTERNESS toward a person, an event or even God.  The tree of bitterness, and many generations of offspring trees that grow from the seeds of the fruit of the first tree – produces a FOREST of sin in my life that is inescapable.

If I am a very bitter person, I only want to talk about one thing – my bitterness.  (Bitterness grows in stages and is progressive, so it may start out only consuming a portion of my attention, but if given plenty of fuel and a  nourishing environment of continued anger, pride, rebellion against God and unforgiveness – it will completely take over my soul.)

It can become my IDOL.  I want to wallow in it and luxuriate in the mire of it.  I want to run the other person down – or run God down.  I wants the world to know what a victim I am and how powerless and wonderful and innocent I am and what justice I have been denied.

Bitterness blocks my view of God’s sovereignty.  When I am bitter, I cannot accept God’s grace for myself or for my offender.  I cannot receive grace.  I cannot give grace.  I cannot forgive.  So God will not forgive me.  It is a dark, depressing, lonely, cold, miserable prison.

If I am bitter with a person – I am ultimately also bitter at God.

For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, CANNOT love God, whom he has not seen.  And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God MUST also love his brother.  I John 4:20b-21

We don’t understand that God counts the way we treat other people as if we are treating Him that way.  The person to whom I show the least amount of love is the way I love God – that is how He judges me.

Whew!  What a scary thought that is!

The whole book of I John is an incredible study on NOT living in bitterness and hatred, but living in the love of God.

Idolatry destroys my fellowship with God and destroys every facet of my life – my soul, my relationships, my finances (eventually), my health, my emotions, my family…  Idolatry has a steep price – it causes discontentment, an insatiable desire for more that cannot satisfy, frustration, anxiety, worry, lack of joy, lack of peace, misery and sometimes even death.

4. Others may become bitter with God because of my bitterness

If I am bitter – I won’t forgive.  I won’t accept God’s grace for myself and I won’t extend God’s grace to others.  God says I am wicked if I refuse to forgive as I have been forgiven (Matthew 18).  I am a slave to sin and the flesh, and I can’t have God’s power or His Spirit or the fruit of His Spirit in my life.  I don’t see the sovereignty of God to work through this situation for my good and His glory.

So – I cannot shine for Christ.

In fact, if I call myself a Christian but am holding on to bitterness, I convolute and distort the image of Christ that I am projecting and will REPEL others from the gospel and the truth of God.

Why would anyone want to come to Christ if living for Him looks like ME – living in bitterness?

Especially my spouse and children will be affected.  If they are not believers, my horrific “witness” will erect a massive stumbling block for them to come to Christ.  I am an awful billboard for Christianity and for Jesus when I live in disobedience to Him.  If they are believers, my poor example will influence them greatly towards ungodliness, too.

My sin will trip others and entangle them.  They may resent God and be bitter at Him, too.  Because my bitterness is contagious and because I can make it hard for them to see the sovereignty of God, the love of God, to accept the grace of God.  And, I make it REALLY hard to love me.  And if they don’t love me, they can’t love God.

THANK GOD HE HAS PROVIDED VICTORY FOR US IN JESUS!

If Jesus is not your Savior and Lord – you can pray and ask Him to be.  Check out the post on my home page about how to have a relationship with Christ!

For those of you who have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord – here is what we can do when we are convicted of sin:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  I John 1:8-9

PRAISE GOD!

The blood of Jesus is strong enough and more than sufficient to cover any sin we might commit.  We can ask for forgiveness.  We can agree with Him that what we are doing is sin.  We can turn from our sin and decide we want to walk on God’s narrow path that leads to life.  And then we need HIS power to be able to obey Him.  So that means, we allow Him to remove all the sin in every corner of our hearts.  We abide in Him – we stay in His Word often.  We pray continually through the day.  We seek His will, His wisdom and His glory and we lay down our own selfish desires and our wisdom .  We long to obey Him in everything.  We ask Him to fill us with His Spirit.  We are still and listen for His voice and read His Word with a deep hunger.  We want HIM more than ANYTHING in life.

Precious sisters in Jesus,

The bitterness has to go!  I am looking at myself first.  We cannot afford to hold on to this destructive sin anymore.  How I pray that God might speak to each of our hearts and tear out every trace of bitterness -replacing it with His Spirit, the fruit of His Spirit and His abundant life!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

RELATED POSTS:

Exploring the Depths of Bitterness

Finding God’s Victory Over Bitterness

Be Still, My Bitter Heart

We Are Always Wretched Sinners on Our Own – We Never “Arrive”

A Peacefulwife VIDEO about nonverbal disrespect

A Wife's Biblical Submission – VIDEO!

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A 12.5 minute video by Peacefulwife

Is it Wise to be "Friends" with other Men?

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After my post Time to Nip that Relationship ASAP – I heard from a reader on my site www.peacefulsinglegirl.wordpress.com – and I am really excited to share her comments.   I think her message is IMPORTANT for Christian single women AND for Christian married women, too!  She is talking about being a single woman and how dangerous it is to be friends with unbelieving men.  But I want the married women to view this post from the perspective of whether it is God-honoring and wise for us to be friends with other men at all outside of our marriage.

I will share some of my thoughts at the end:

FROM A READER:
 
Might I add… because you know its wrong to date an unbeliever – you maintain you will remain just friends. Be Careful ! You may very well sincerely treat him as just a friend and keep your boundaries. But that is no guarantee of protection from attraction: if he is masculine and you have admiration for him and are sociable with him attraction can build over time.  Sometimes we think we are hiding our butterflies well by all the while insisting you want nothing more than friendship but he is not blind.   He can see you admire him and he’ll milk it for all its worth. All my guy friends have known whether I had a little crush on them: my face can’t hide it and I tend to smile a lot. I discovered personally if I open up to a male friend by talking a lot about every day life in general with frequency and over time I start to like them! : o
 
HOW WE GET HOOKED
 
Just a steady stream of frequent casual conversation makes me begin to bond with them and once I start confiding in them then exactly what you quoted happens:” he wants to “counsel” you or “guide” you in your life.”  So true: everything from how you should think, what you should do, career decisions, trying to bring up doubt about how you were raised, questioning your beliefs… spot on!!  Another area of caution: he may initially agree to be just friends; all the while hoping to become closer and win you over …. or later on over time he can be attracted to you as more than a friend. Familiarity breeds liking and boldness in men.
 
MY MOTIVES WERE PURE – HIS WEREN’T
 
I was chipper, bubbly and VERY conservative and restrained with this one guy who knew I am a Christian and date only Christians. I kept the friendship very pure and I knew he liked me……. Fast forward months after – I was gob-smacked when said guy tried to cop a feel of my breast while we were chatting on campus, then had the gall to try and kiss me as I hugged him (as I do all my friends make and female) to say goodbye!! I was livid!
 
Of course knowing that he doesn’t respect me and wanted ultimately to bed me –  our friendship died a natural death.  
 
HIS TACTICS
 
That former acquaintance said things like:
“If you don’t want me,  why don’t you leave me alone?”
 
When he asked to date me and I said no he got so angry….
“What, do you scorn me do you think I’m not good enough for you?”
 
This is even after I explained being why being unequally yoked is sin and that Christians are only able to stand because of grace and faith in the Lord Jesus
 
TRYING TO “WITNESS” TO A GUY CAN LEAD TO TEMPTATION FOR US
 
Him: – “What do you want from me”
Me: – “uh…… uhmmm I am just saying ‘hi.’ Did I do something wrong?”
Him – “what are you trying to do?  Save my soul?” >:(
 
Of course I responded ” I cannot save your soul, and I won’t try to, your relationship with God is a deeply personal matter. I can only show and tell you my experience and hope and wish and pray that you come into a saving knowledge of Christ.” We can be the best of friends as long as there is absolute purity.
 
I will never make the mistake of pressuring him or any guy to come to church in order to date me or try to play Holy Spirit Jr. What happens if there’s a breakup or by some twist of fate i were to grow lukewarm? Does he lose his faith? I want him to come to God for the right reasons. Even though at then end – he harshly rejected my friendship in a harsh, degrading manner I still pray about him and think of him hoping he’ll find his way back to Christ and that God will bless him and give him a wife, kids, a ministry a hope and a future.
 
NEW INSIGHTS
 
I sought God desperately about him.  I didn’t want to leave any room for error. I kept my Mom and youth leader as accountability partners. I prayed often and when I found myself getting infatuated, I said, “God if you don’t want him in my life, move him out.” He lived on nearby and sure enough months later he literally moved away to another city! I wondered how God would have worked it out. Well as it unravelled God prompted me ahead of time with dreams showing me his true character and any time I knew I was gonna bump into him I prayed and God covered me and prepared me.I really, reaaallly wanted to be his friend,- a hey can you do me a favour, sure buddy what is it kind of friend. It reminded me of David who was trying so desperately to be friends with Saul meanwhile Saul wanted to annihilate him.“See I am being nice to you/ kind to you… why do you resent my friendship? Why do you seek to insult me and bring me pain?” (insert pout)
God had to create a diversion a the rock of escape and moved Saul away so David could escape unharmed, Yes sometimes we are so blind and naive to people’s true intentions but God is merciful to us!

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I believed when I was first married that having male friends was totally fine. I thought I was safe because they knew I was married. And I thought I was above infidelity. Now that I am 39 years old and have a lot more experience under my belt and understand the deceitfulness of the human heart and the utter sinful wretchedness of every human being much more clearly – including my own – I know that I was extremely naieve and unwise in my beliefs.

Just like this reader discovered, I, too,  figured out in time that just because my motives are pure at the outset of a “platonic friendship” with a guy, that doesn’t mean my motives will stay pure.  I am vulnerable to developing feelings for men who are off limits to me – we all are.  And I don’t really know what the guy’s motives are – but even if his motives are pure in the beginning, he may develop an attraction to me – and that is a big problem!

Is it possible for men and women to have platonic friendships that don’t eventually turn into attraction or romantic/sexual feelings?  Maybe.

If your definition of “friendship” is just to smile and say, “Hi!” and only talk with him when your husband is around and you are not talking with him a lot, or you are friends on Facebook but only comment occasionally in public and never have private conversations – that might be ok – but still use great caution!  To me, this would be more of being a friendly acquaintance – not a friend you spend one-on-one time with or confide in.

In my mind – the risk of a moderate/deep friendship with a man is MUCH too great of a risk to take for married women.

I have seen in my own life, in my friends’ lives and many women I have heard from WAY too many times when the attraction eventually became an issue – even if it wasn’t at first.  And once you have those feelings of being “in love” – your heart and feelings will happily deceive and mislead you and you will be willing to rationalize all kinds of reasons why it’s ok to talk with/spend time with/get cozy with this other man. It is a very slippery slope to adultery.  God’s Word tells us to FLEE from sexual immorality.

CLOSE FRIENDSHIPS WITH OTHER MEN ARE NOT WORTH IT IN MY BOOK!

Satan wants to take us down.  And he would be VERY happy to do this by bringing a handsome, funny, magnetic, charming, sympathetic, understanding, attractive – maybe even godly – man into our lives who will tempt and convince us to water down our faith and convictions and make compromise after compromise that will erode the foundation of our faith, the foundation of our marriage and the Lordship of Jesus in our lives.

As a married Christian woman, my personal convictions are:

– Do not become good friends with men.  (no private conversations, emails, texts, dates, time alone together, flirting, etc.)

– Be CAREFUL when witnessing to men.  If a guy acts interested in hearing you talk about coming to know Christ, try to only speak with him in public, and, ideally, introduce him to a godly man who can lead him to Christ.  There are plenty of guys who will follow along and act interested in Jesus as long as it means they have a chance at YOU.  BE CAREFUL!!  GUARD YOUR HEART!  Could God use you to lead a man to Christ?  YES!  Does it need to be in private at his house?  NO!!!!!

– Put the will of Jesus WAY, WAY ahead of your own will and desires.  Die to your own desires and your flesh and take up your cross and follow Jesus daily with the greatest passion and purpose and intensity.

– Dress, act and speak modestly.  Draw attention to your Lord, not to your body or your sexuality.

– If you have couple friends with your husband – concentrate your attention on the other wife, not the other husband

– Concentrate on developing strong friendships with godly girls/women who respect their own husbands and respect your husband and God’s design for marriage

– I would strongly recommend finding a godly older woman as a mentor and/or an accountability partner

– Avoid having many conversations with other men – especially spiritual/emotional conversations or listening to their marriage problems

– Avoid giving a lot of respect and admiration to other men!!!  That is DANGEROUS GROUND!

– It is probably wise to avoid hugging or touching other men at all in most cases.

– Stay in God’s Word daily.  Pray frequently throughout the day.  Mediate on God’s Word.  Praise Him in your heart all day long.

– Immediately repent of ANY sin or ungodly thoughts or motives – and, if possible, tell your accountability partner and  your husband if you are having tempting thoughts.  Keeping these things secret is what allows the illicit feelings to grow – bringing it into the light and open usually helps to kill the ungodly desires, and also makes it much harder to give in to the temptations when you know you are accountable for them.

– Focus on your own husband and your relationship with Christ.  How can you bless your husband and honor God in your marriage? How can you make your husband’s life better?  How can you flirt with him?  How can you minister to him?  How can you make him your greatest human priority in the world?

 

ARE MY CONVICTIONS THE WORD OF GOD?

Nope.

You will have to pray and hammer out your own convictions between you, God and your husband.

My convictions have come about due to experiences I have had or witnessed with others.  And they are subject to further scrutiny and change if God or my husband or my accountability prayer partner wives see something lacking or something dangerous in my life.

My prayer is that this might give you something to think about and a place to start.  I pray that God might protect you and that He might show you how to guard your heart and marriage to prevent much heartbreak in your future by building a healthy hedge of protection around your heart, soul and  marriage today.

 

Rejoice in Suffering

Could there be a more unpalatable idea to us than this?  We don’t WANT to suffer – EVER!  And we certainly cannot begin to fathom REJOICING in suffering!  We only want comfort, ease, health and material wealth.  And we have plenty of preachers who are glad to tell us that it’s God’s will for us to be “healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Well – I have to stand up and say emphatically that the prosperity gospel is false teaching!  That is not what the Bible tells us to expect as believers.  In fact, if the prosperity gospel were true, then Jesus should have been born in human luxury, lived in mansions, had servants and never suffered – certainly He should have never been flogged and crucified as an innocent man!

God sent Jesus here to live in poverty, to suffer for what was right, to receive horrific abuse from us-  His enemies at the time, to crush Him so that His wrath could be satisfied and so that we might be free from the punishment we deserve for our sin.  If Jesus – Who obviously lived in the very center of God’s will all the time – suffered as part of God’s divine will – we can and should expect to suffer, too.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life a guilt offering, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand.  After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities.”  Isaiah 53:10-11

THE UNFORTUNATE TRUTH ABOUT SINFUL HUMAN NATURE

In the Old Testament, I read it over and over and over again:

“When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud, then they forgot Me.”  Hosea 13:6

God’s blessings of material wealth and prosperity >> our pride >>  our self-indulgence >> we think we don’t need God/idolatry

Poverty and suffering >> our humility >> turns our hearts to God in dependence (we see the depths of our need for Him) >> our increased faith in God

Over and over again, prosperity in Israel created stubborn, rebellious, ungrateful hearts.  And it was only after God brought disaster and punishment that the people turned to Him and cried out for Him to save them.  Prosperity makes us spoiled, selfish and ungodly most of the time.  It happens to our children when they get everything they want, and it happens to us as adults, too.

SUFFERING HAS A HOLY PURPOSE

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead.  Philippians 2:10-11

I am the true Vine, and My Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit HE PRUNES so that it will be even more fruitful.  John 1:1-2

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Acts 5:41

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

(speaking to slaves) If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.”  When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him Who judges justly.  He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.  I Peter 2:20-24

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. I Peter 3:13

Since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.  I Peter 4:1-2

Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the Name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you…  If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that Name.  I Peter 4:12-14,16

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.  I Peter 4:19

Just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  II Corinthians 1:5

Suffering is God’s tool to mold us into the image of Christ.  Certain suffering is God’s will for us.  (Not for us to suffer for doing wrong, but to suffer for doing right).  My temporary happiness is not God’s goal!  God uses suffering as discipline to train us in holiness – as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.  Holiness is a vastly more important priority to God for my life than my happiness. He used suffering to keep Paul humble (his thorn in the flesh).  He uses suffering to refine our faith, to bring the sin (dross) to the top and skim it off and to purify our faith and make it more valuable and beautiful.

When I know God more and more – how loving, kind and good He is – I don’t have to fear suffering anymore!  When I understand His sovereignty and how He will use suffering for my benefit – what would I fear?  The only thing to fear is being outside of the will of God.  If I am in the will of God, even if that includes suffering, I am safe in His arms.  And I can have a gentle and peaceful spirit that does not give way to fear that is of great beauty in the sight of God and my husband.  (I Peter 3:6)

WHAT KINDS OF SUFFERINGS MIGHT GOD ALLOW?

  • spiritual
  • Satanic/demonic attack
  • mental strain
  • emotional (depression, anxiety – sometimes these can be because of medical conditions, and sometimes they are a result of us cherishing sin – a red flag that it is time to do a sweeping soul search with God’s Word and His light to show us if we are holding on to any sin)
  • marital problems
  • family issues/problems
  • death of a loved one
  • suffering because of my sin or because of someone else’s sin or just because of the curse of sin on the world
  • financial
  • health problems
  • disasters
  • government oppression
  • persecution because of our faith
  • martyrdom

God tailors and uses the sufferings and trials we experience to accomplish His purposes in our lives.

We are not to seek out suffering or inflict suffering on ourselves.  God determines the trials we will face.

IN MARRIAGE

I hear SO MANY wives say:

  • I don’t want to get hurt.  If I show respect, he’ll make decisions to purposely hurt me and our children.
  • I don’t want to be taken advantage of.  I need to protect myself.
  • My husband doesn’t deserve my respect.  I don’t want to obey God’s commands for me as a wife.
  • My husband has hurt me too much, I can’t obey God.
  • My husband isn’t a believer, so I can’t respect him and I can’t submit to him.
  • I want to feel loved first by my husband, then I will obey God.  God needs to change my husband first.

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  Matthew 10:39

To live with Jesus as Lord, I must lay down my will, my dreams, my rights, my plans, my wisdom, my expectations, my agenda, my needs, my weakness, my sin and my desires.  I sacrifice them to Jesus and I pick up my cross (of sharing in His suffering and death) and follow Him.  I die to myself and my flesh and sin.  And I live for Christ.  So now, I pick up His will, His dreams, His goals, His plans, His wisdom, His power, His righteousness, His holiness and His desires.  He plants within me the mind and heart of Christ.  He gives me His holy desires.

Thankfully – God wired men to respond to respect and submission with a desire to serve.  Most of the time, the more respectful and cooperative a wife is, the more loving, kind, thoughtful and protective a husband will be.  But even if our husbands don’t seem to “respond well” to our obedience to God – we are still accountable before God to obey Him.   He will rewards us in heaven for how we treat our husbands here – regardless of their response to us.

(If there is physical abuse, drug addiction or infidelity – a wife may not be able to trust her husband or cooperate with his sin during that time – please seek godly, experienced help if this is your current situation!)

There will be emotional and spiritual suffering in marriage as we mature, learn and grow.  God will use marriage to expose our own selfishness, pride, idolatry, unforgiveness and sin.  He uses all of this to refine us and to bring us to greater maturity.

OUR GOD IS HUGE!

A big part of how we submit and yield ourselves to Jesus on a daily basis and pick up our cross is that we will submit to our husbands’ leadership (unless he is asking us to sin or condone sin).  Even if we disagree.  Even if we don’t get our way.  Even if it doesn’t look like things will work out the way we think they should.

In my view, this is one of a woman’s biggest tests of her faith in Christ.  

I have been AMAZED at the ways God has worked things out in my personal life when I submitted to my husband – even when I disagreed – how God caused things to happen that were so much better than anything I could have asked for or imagined.  God’s wisdom is INFINITELY HIGHER than my own!  It doesn’t matter if I get “my way” – I want God’s will!  He is the only one Who knows how to get me there – so I have to trust Him to lead me through my husband.

Our God is big enough and “sovereign enough” that He is able to lead us through our sinful husbands when we have a heart to love and obey Him above all else!

Our husbands DON’T deserve our respect.  But God commands us to respect them.  And if God commands it, I need to do it even if I don’t understand or agree.  Now –  I can see that God is commanding us to give our husbands what they NEED to thrive and become more godly – not what they deserve.  But even if I can’t see why God commands me to do something, it is my duty before Him to obey Him.

We don’t deserve our husbands’ unconditional love and godly leadership.  We can be REALLY unlovable sometimes!  I know that I sure can!  But we NEED it.  That is why God commands husbands to do those things.

This is not about giving our husbands what we think they deserve.  What all people deserve is punishment from a holy God.  We don’t want what we deserve!

This journey of faith is about obeying God, seeking His will and His way and His glory.  It is about bringing healing, God’s power and strength and unity to marriage for God’s glory.  It is about keeping the gospel of Christ shining brightly without tarnishing it by our rebelliousness.  Titus 2:5 says that wives are to be subject to their husbands so that the word of God will not be maligned.  When I take control in my marriage – the very gospel of Christ is injured!  MAY IT NEVER BE!  Our obedience to God’s Word is SO MUCH BIGGER than our own marriages!  Our obedience to Him  in our marriages draws others to Christ – and our disobedience will repel them.

If my husband is doing wrong, God says that it is His to avenge, He will repay.  We can trust Him to handle revenge and justice in His time and His way for His glory.  I must respectfully and cautiously confront sin at times (keeping my eyes constantly on my own motives and pride – making sure I am not in sin myself) – but God’s Spirit is plenty capable of changing my husbands’ heart and convicting him in His time and His way.  He does not need my help!  I would only get in the way and stall things and make it hard for my husband to hear God’s voice!  In fact, I have done that many times – and it did not work!

PRAYER

Lord,

I pray that You might help us to embrace suffering that is in Your will for us!  Help us to see that there will be pain and suffering in marriage and that You use that to make us holy and more like Jesus and that suffering is a HUGE blessing when we embrace it as Your tool to refine our faith and test our character and make us more spiritually mature.  Help us be willing to sacrifice ourselves in order to obey You in our marriages.  Help us be willing to suffer for what is right if necessary.  Use us to repay evil with good and cursing with blessing.  Use us to show Your kindness to our husbands – even when they don’t deserve it.  Let us lay down our sin – our unforgiveness, bitterness, idolatry, wanting to control things ourselves, anxiety, lust, gossip, jealousy, hatred, malice, rebelliousness and every sin that displeases You.  Fill us with Your Spirit and Your power to become the godly wives You desire us to be.  Use us to greatly bless our husbands and children.  We can’t do this in our own strength.  Help us to abide in You daily, praise You constantly, sing songs of praise and gratitude to You in our hearts all day long, pray fervently without ceasing and seek You above all else in our lives.  Let us love You wholeheartedly and let us give ourselves fully to You without any reservation.  Use us to be Your faithful servants and to bring You honor and praise.

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

Respecting Your Man around Extended Family

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!

Some tips for family get-togethers:

– Smile and look at your husband when he is talking and listen to him with interest.

– Don’t interrupt him.

– Don’t correct his story-telling.

– Don’t tell him how to drive unless he specifically asks for you to be the navigator.  But even then, don’t critique his driving skills.

– Let him decide what to eat and don’t lecture him or give him THE LOOK!

– Don’t pout if he goes to talk with the men and leaves you with the women.

– If people get nosy and start asking things you don’t want to answer, “When are you having a baby?  Are you ever going to get pregnant?”  or other personal questions – smile and look at your husband and let him field those questions.  If he’s not there, then smile and say something to deflect the question, “Children are a blessing, aren’t they?”  “We’ll be sure to let everyone know if we have any news.”  And change the topic sweetly.

– Praise him genuinely in front of others.

– Do NOT criticize him, speak negatively of him or use non-verbal disrespect (eye rolling, sighing, looking impatient, scowling, daggers in your eyes).

– Do NOT join in with other wives bashing their husbands!!!!  Even if your husband never knows about it, putting your man down in front of other people is extremely disrespectful and it will taint your ability to respect your husband.

– If people want you to agree to something or commit to something, check with your husband first, or if he is there, look at him and let him answer.

– Uphold your husband’s parenting decisions (ESPECIALLY in front of others!).

– Smile and enjoy the blessing of being with your husband and family.

– Do not complain or argue – that ruins your witness for Christ and it can ruin the whole atmosphere for everyone.

– Do not be a martyr!  Ask for help if you need it!  If you can’t make a certain dish without feeling resentful – don’t make it!

– Don’t correct his manners.

– Don’t correct his pronunciation.

– Don’t insinuate he doesn’t make enough money.

– Be content with him and what you have.

– Find your strength, joy, identity and purpose in Christ!!  Then you won’t feel compelled to drown your husband with your needs that only Jesus can fulfill.

– Let your husband make his own decisions.  Don’t try to force him to do things your way.  You may politely ask for what you would prefer – but then cooperate with his decision (unless he is asking you to sin).

– Make sure there will be some of your husband’s favorite dishes if possible.

Why Won’t My Husband Just Love Me???

If you are a wife who is feeling lonely and unloved – I feel your pain VERY DEEPLY! I pursued my husband for 15 years in our marriage and wanted his love SO MUCH! I was lonely, frustrated, angry, and felt extremely unloved at times.

Most wives are in such horrible pain and we only see our own pain – not our husbands’ pain.  We don’t realize that often – he is just as wounded and injured as we are.  We don’t realize our own contribution to the mess and just want our husbands to be:

  • more loving
  • more plugged in
  • more kind
  • more romantic
  • more understanding
  • more sympathetic to their pain

It’s not that these desires are wrong necessarily.  The issue is when we put these desires above everything else in life.

Ideally – husbands would continue to love and pursue their wives even if we are messing things up a lot. But it would take a very Holy Spirit-filled man to react that way to a wife’s desperation/demands/hostility/control/disrespect.  Most men are NOT THERE.

God made wives to need love primarily.  God made husbands to need respect primarily.  When we are not getting what we legitimately need – we react by not meeting our spouse’s legitimate need.  THIS DOESN’T WORK!  SOMEONE has to start meeting the other person’s needs even if he/she isn’t getting his/her own needs met for a time.

Unfortunately – the way we wives usually react when we feel unloved is disrespectful. And when men feel disrespected their knee jerk reaction is unloving. So the crazy cycle begins (Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs).

THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE

God designed marriage with a very specific purpose (Ephesians 5:22-33) – to be a living demonstration of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church.  Husbands are to play the part of Christ loving, providing, leading, being selfless and servant-hearted.  And wives are to represent the adoration, reverence, awe, devotion and submission of the church to Jesus.

Husbands are wired by God to need respect in the most profound ways in order to feel loving.  Wives are wired by God to need love deeply in order to feel respectful.

You can’t change your husband.  You can only change your relationship with Christ and your behavior.  You can’t make him love you.  You can only influence him in a godly way.  BUT that way is VERY powerful!

FOLLOWING YOUR HEART WILL MAKE THINGS WORSE!

To attract your husband – you have to do what works for HIM to feel attracted to you.  Giving him more and more love won’t help at all.  He doesn’t long for love the way you do.  He longs for respect, faith, admiration, trust, friendliness, your beautiful smile, and a sense that you actually LIKE him as a man and accept him as he is.

If you smother him with neediness and constant phone calls and texts and you try to demand his attention, change him or even worse – beg, cry, pout, whine, manipulate or try to force him to do what you want – HE WILL NOT DO IT. Those tactics repulse men.

Bob Grant (a marriage counselor and author) says, “No one likes to be told what to do.  But men REALLY don’t like to be told what to do.”

When we are resorting to those desperate methods to try to MAKE our men love us and MAKE them do what we want – we are actually committing idolatry. I did this FOR A LONG, LONG TIME. I didn’t see it. All I saw was, “He is unloving! He SHOULD do X, Y and Z for ME!” But I didn’t notice how I was hurting him. He never told me I was disrespectful and he never told me I hurt him. I assumed he had no feelings. And I was WRONG.

I HAD A FOREST IN MY OWN EYE

I was putting my desire to feel loved way above my desire for Christ. Any time I HAVE to have something other than Christ to be happy – that is idolatry. And there is no worse sin than that. I broke the first commandment (from the 10 commandments) all day long every day for many years – and I thought I was a great Christian.  But I was living in sin, so I didn’t have God’s power working full blast in me, and I didn’t have the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.  I had grieved God’s heart and His Spirit could not stay in fellowship with me with all that filth in my soul.  I didn’t lose my relationship with Him – but I lost connection with Him and His full power in my life

I didn’t see my pride. I really believed “I know better than my husband.” “I’m smarter than he is.” “I need to take over because he WON’T MAN UP.” And so I tried to control him and I treated him with disrespect. I criticized him daily. I lectured him. I ordered him around. I told him what to do and how to do it. I rolled my eyes at him. I raised my voice and used the angry mama scolding tone with him. I didn’t pay much attention to his feelings or what he thought was important or what he wanted. If he didn’t answer me within 5 seconds, I was ANGRY. I acted like I was better than him because I really thought I was. I had MOUNTAINS of pride.

When I finally saw it – I was mortified. I thought I was such a great wife – but I wasn’t. I wasn’t taking care of my husband’s legitimate and God-given need for respect. I didn’t even really know what respect or disrespect meant to a man! And I wasn’t allowing him to lead even though God designated him the leader in the marriage.

I was stressed out, lonely, angry, anxious, unforgiving, resentful, fearful and thought that I had to make things happen, that I was in charge – not God. That is how I lived – as if I were in God’s place and God barely existed.  That was all HUGE sin and the results of my sin and living in my own strength and wisdom were obvious.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

I had to learn to put Christ first. He has to be my Lord and my God. I have to be willing to sacrifice MY wants, MY will, MY way, MY rights, MY wisdom, MY needs and take on God’s will, His desires, His goals, His purpose, His plan and His wisdom. I had to REALLY, REALLY humble myself hundreds of notches and be contrite before God – seeing the depths of my sin – and seeing the heights of God’s holiness and that I fell miles and miles short of His standard. I had to really see how much sin debt I owed to Jesus – that I owed Him BILLIONS of $ for my sin, not just a few hundred bucks.

I had to learn to put Him first in every area of my life and hold nothing back from Him. I had to learn to obey His Word and seek His will.

It was only when I had Jesus in the right place in my heart and took my husband, my being in control and my feeling loved off the throne of my soul that God began to work powerfully in me and my marriage. He eventually gave me the desires of my heart – to feel loved by my husband again. BUT my motive had to be to please God not to try to make my husband love me.

WHAT WORKS

When my motives are right in God’s sight and I obey Him and respect my husband and cooperate with his leadership – THEN my husband is powerfully attracted to me and WANTS to love me again.

My humble attitude attracts my husband – the idea that he has valuable wisdom and insight that are important to our marriage and family is a necessary ingredient of respecting him!

I stepped down from control and allowed him to make decisions.  I tell him what I want and like and need (usually once) and then I let him make the ultimate decision and trust that God will use my husband to lead me to His will.  I don’t cooperate with sin – but everything else, I joyfully and cheerfully cooperate with my husband about.

When I seek God’s design for marriage and look at His commands for wives and am willing to obey them – God blesses me greatly in my walk with Him and my marriage!

I’M THANKFUL I COULDN’T MAKE MY HUSBAND LOVE ME NOW

I learned that it was actually a HUGE BLESSING that my husband refused to pursue me when I was idolizing him. If he had rewarded me by giving me what I wanted – he would have created a monster! What a blessing to have a man who will not be manipulated or coerced or forced into what we want. That is a sign of a strong leader who stands by his convictions.

I believe sometimes – but not always – wives might experiencing intense emotional pain and distress because they may have their husbands, or feelings of being loved or trying to be in control themselves as idols in their hearts. I pray you will examine your relationship with Christ and put Him in His proper place in your life and commit to do things His way. Then I think you will see miracles in time that will blow your mind.

I am here if you want to talk more! MUCH LOVE and BIG HUGS precious sisters!

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If you have a very difficult husband, please check out Nina Roesner’s “Strength and Dignity” eCourse

If you are experiencing severe issues in your marriage, please contact the appropriate people for help – the police, a trusted, godly counselor, a doctor, a trusted pastor, etc… This post is not written for women who are experiencing abuse, whose husbands are involved in active addictions or uncontrolled mental illness or spiritual oppression/demon possession.

If You Are Getting Stuck

The times I have gotten stuck on my journey to obey God’s Word as a wife and to totally submit to Him in my entire life, including my marriage and to learn His design for me to respect and submit to my husband – there is usually one or more of the following going on:

  • bitterness – I am hanging on to resentment and unforgiveness.  When I do this, I forfeit God’s Holy Spirit abiding in me and empowering me.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a godly wife and to live in constant fellowship with Christ if I am cherishing ANY sin in my heart.  I MUST sincerely, humbly and deeply repent.
  • pride – I start thinking I know best.  I know better than God.  I know better than God’s Word.  I know better than my husband.  I should be the one in control.  I’d do a much better job than my husband at leading.  He’s messing everything up.
  • lack of faith in God or my husband – without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  And without faith in my husband, it is impossible for me to show respect to him in a way that will mean anything to him.
  • idolatry – I started looking to other things besides Christ for my fulfillment, contentment and happiness.  THIS IS VERY EASY TO DO!  I have to CONSTANTLY check my motives.  WHY am I doing what I am doing?  Am I really doing this to honor God?  Or am I doing it to try to control my husband and make him love me more?  Am I doing this to try to force my husband to make me feel loved?  Am I doing this because I love God with all my heart, want to know Him more and want to obey Him?  Or am I doing the respect thing because I want to try to CONTROL God?  Motive matter GREATLY to our husbands and to God.
  • self-righteousness – I start thinking I am better than my husband.  This is sin!

BROKENNESS

If I do not start from a place of total humility and brokenness – weeping over the magnitude of my own sin in God’s sight – I still have a lot more repenting to do.

It is only when I am utterly humble and contrite before God and tear down all my idols and all my false understanding of him and of myself that I can please Him.  I have to see how utterly spiritually poor, impoverished and critically ill I am to be in the right place.

I must be willing to lay everything down on the altar and sacrifice it to Jesus.  I have to die to myself – willingly.

If there is something that I am holding back from Him and afraid to trust Him about – I have an idol – and I have a lot more work to do.

His perfect love drives out all fear.  The one who fears has not been made perfect in love.

THEN…

The power of God will begin to move in my own heart in extremely powerful ways.

God’s power is fiercely strong in me when I look to Him to be the only source of my identity, the only source of my joy, the only source of my strength and the only purpose in my life.  I must want His will much more than my own – even if I don’t know exactly what His will might involve.  I trust Him.

My highest goal is to bring honor and glory to my Lord.

This is the secret of contentment, joy, peace and abundant life!

THE LITMUS TEST

If I am acting in my own strength and have sin in my heart, I will see multiple characteristics of the flesh predominantly in my heart on a daily basis – and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:19-21):

  • sexual immorality
  • impurity
  • debauchery (excessive use of alcohol/drugs/sex)
  • idolatry
  • witchcraft
  • hatred
  • discord
  • jealousy
  • fits of rage
  • selfish ambition
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envy
  • drunkenness
  • orgies
  • and the like

If I have things in my heart from the above list, I have either not accepted the gift of Jesus Christ to pay for my sins and asked Him to be my Savior and Lord – or I am not living with Him as Lord.  I have grieved His Spirit and am clinging to sin more than to Jesus.

If His Spirit is in charge – I will see ALL of the fruit of the Spirit in my life daily and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:22):

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • gentleness
  • self-control
  • no envy
  • no boasting
  • no rudeness
  • no pride
  • no self-seeking
  • not easily angered
  • keep no record of wrongs suffered
  • forgiveness  (unforgiveness = wickedness, the parable of the servant whose master forgave him a great debt, and then the servant wouldn’t forgive his fellow servant a small debt – the master called him, “You wicked servant!”)
  • no delight in evil  (ie: unforgiveness, idolatry, control, pride, selfishness, lust and gossip)
  • rejoice with the truth
  • I protect my husband
  • I trust my husband (or want to move towards being able to rebuild trust) and even more, I trust my Lord
  • I hope in my husband and my Lord
  • I always persevere in my marriage by God’s strength

When I am living in the power of God’s Spirit – these things on this list will be a daily reality and become normal.  God does this.  I cannot do these things AT ALL on my own.  I just have to be plugged in to His power source, spending time in His Word, surrendering my heart, yielding my life completely and without reservation, praying constantly, praising Him constantly, meditation on His Word all throughout the day.

This is what a “normal” Christian life is supposed to look like!

Waiting on the Lord

Today’s guest post is by Lindsey Watson at Runningincircles.   Thank you for sharing!  Praying for a healthy delivery and healthy mama and baby!

There are tons of verses in the Bible about waiting on the Lord.  I know, because I found them and “claimed” them all when I was single and worrying about my biological clock ticking away while God dilly-dallied around with bringing me Mr. Right, or even Mr. Remotely Interested.

I suspect I’m not the only one who’s ever felt this way, because there’s lots of art for sale at LifeWay that illustrates these “waiting” verses, and “waiting” has been the subject of many popular Christian songs that have played on the radio over the past ten years.

We sang one of the many “waiting” songs at church on Sunday, and it got me thinking about this topic again.  I’m in those tedious, anxious final weeks of pregnancy, so it’s timely for me to take a closer look at what is true (and what isn’t) about what it means to wait on God and his timing.

1.  He’s not a fickle companion.

My least favorite of Christian Waiting Songs begins, “I will run to the cleft of the mountain and wait for You/Will You come meet with me?”  It is completely opposite of everything that is true of God and of us to suggest that we show up and then invite him to join us.  It’s absurd to imagine that we’re ever the first to arrive at the restaurant, and that we’re sometimes left at the table wondering if God is going to stand us up like an inconsiderate blind date or that scatterbrained friend who forgot she said she’d meet you for lunch.

God is always, always the initiator and the faithful party in his relationship with us.  Moses didn’t “run” to the cleft of the mountain, God put him there.  The story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal reminds us that our God does not need to be summoned with shouting or holy displays, that he never turns off his phone to sleep or go to the bathroom.  He’s the constant, and we’re the ones who fail to draw near.

2.  Waiting is not wasting time.

Nothing is more frustrating than what feels like pointless waiting.  The other day I went to the wrong department of the hospital and sat for an hour before realizing that the tech I needed to see was down the hallway, wondering where I was.  Sometimes traffic crawls due to lane closures for “construction” even when there are no bulldozers or workers present.  I have to bite my tongue when someone gets to the front of the line at Starbucks without any idea what she wants to drink, and we all stand there while she sorts through her various options with the barista.

But God, being omnipresent, omniscient, and outside the confines of time, is an accomplished multitasker.  We’re never sidelined in a plastic chair while he attends to something more pressing.  If he has not given us something we’re “waiting for,” it’s because it’s not the right time for it yet.  From my perspective, these last six weeks of waiting for Baby feel pointless.  (Weren’t we “viable” two months ago? Six more weeks of fattening for both of us just seems indulgent.)  But I got to peek into the workshop again last week, to see all the little parts that God is knitting together, and I was reminded of how many little details are still coming together.  His little diaphragm is still learning how to breathe in and out.  His little bones are still hardening so he’ll be strong enough to push out of my body and then not get squished under his sister’s loving affections.  His organs are getting close to ready, but aren’t quite mature enough for independent functioning.

It’s easy to track this in hindsight, too.  I know now why God didn’t bring me “Mr. Right” when I was twenty and impatient.  Like the baby inside me, I still had some growing to do.  (And so did Mr. Right, for that matter.)   Why hasn’t God given a baby to our friends who struggle with infertility?  Why doesn’t he send rain to Africa?  Why hasn’t Jesus just come back already to set it all right?

The Bible reminds us that when we perceive that God is being slow to fulfill his promises, the truth is that he is simply working in ways that we do not yet see or understand.  What looks to us like carelessness or tarrying is actually his patience, his wisdom, the fact that circumstances are more complicated than we realize.  We have not been been forgotten or set on the back burner: we…and others…and even creation are being prepared for what lies before us when the time is exactly right.

3.  Waiting is not Idleness.

As I wait for this baby to arrive, I’m passing the time with some serious nesting.  I’m stocking away meals in the freezer.  I’m cleaning out closets, vacuuming behind the AC vents, taking unused clutter to Goodwill, organizing our digital photos and movies.  I’m also trying to take every opportunity to listen to Abby’s stories, linger over Play-Doh, snuggle in the big chair as we watch Dora.  In other words, there’s plenty to do in this season of “waiting” that I won’t be able to do when the time is up.

When I was in high school, I frequently heard the song “Closing Time” on the radio that reminded me that “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”  And while it’s a deep thought for a song about having to leave a bar at the end of the night, it’s true none the less.  So however exciting the beginning is that we anticipate, it also means the loss of certain opportunities.  So whether I’m waiting for the doctor to arrive at my exam room, for the onset of labor pains, for Jesus to appear in the clouds, my challenge is to wait purposefully, thoughtfully, productively, expectantly.

Because at some point, the waiting will be over, and when it is, I want to be ready.